Stella Donnelly Interview: Bringing 'Thrush Metal' to the masses
With BIGSOUND and an OZ tour on the horizon, it's time you get to know Stella Donnelly.
We're a few months late to the party, but earlier this year Stella Donnelly released an all-killer, no filler EP called Thrush Metal. Like all the good Aussie songwriters, it's an honest and relatable collection of lo-fi, acoustic-pop songs that exposes an exciting young voice on the Australian music landscape. Taking some time away from her other two bands BOAT SHOW and Bells Rapids (both excellent in their own right), she's playing a big launch show at The Bird on August 24, before heading over east for an appearance at BIGSOUND on the triple j Unearthed stage and more. We had a quick chat to find out a little more about what makes her tick.
First up, a belated congratulations on your debut EP from earlier this year, given it’s been out for quite a while now (and thus a bit of time for reflection) - are you happy with how it was/still is getting received?
Thanks so much! When the EP was received well by my Mum and Dad I was stoked enough, let alone everyone else who has liked it! I think I'm still in a little bit of shock about the whole thing to be honest.
It’s a couple of years worth of work for you, are you the kind of person that gets nervous about unleashing that body of work to the world, or just excited to get it out there?
Most of my nerves are actually around how my song will sound once it has been recorded, I think getting to that point was pretty challenging for me so by the time that I arrived at a finished product, I was just itching to get it out. It felt a little bit reckless and liberating sending such intentionally lo-fi sounding tracks to people that I actually found it fun.
You play in a couple of bands (BOAT SHOW & Bells Rapids), but what do you enjoy most about this solo project that you perhaps don’t get playing in bands?
I actually miss the bands a lot when I play solo, all the fuck-ups are mine (although most of them are mine in BOAT SHOW gigs anyway!), all the banter is on me, and all the eyes are on me which can get a little heavy sometimes. But that's not the question you just asked me is it? I think I enjoy playing solo because it teaches me to take control and to think really carefully about the ideas that I want to get across.
Your songwriting is very observational, and doesn’t tend to pull punches, is there a cathartic element to your songwriting?
I mostly want to tell stories with the songs but there is obviously an element of catharsis to every story.
You’re someone who gigs basically non-stop from the looks of things, so it feels like you’re a pretty good judge of how the local scene is travelling at the moment - is Perth still killing it in terms of exciting/emerging talent?
It's so great to be part of this scene and yes it is abso-bloody-lutely still killing it! Only last week did I stumble upon an artist called Carla Geneve (look her up) who just blew my mind.
You’ve also played some fantastic support shows, have there been any standout acts that have blown you away or you’ve learnt things from?
I learned so much on the San Cisco tour, both as Boat Show and myself. There is so much work that goes into a band touring that I just had no idea about!
You’ll be getting out of here soon for some east coast shows - is this the first time you’ve taken the solo project overseas - BIGSOUND should be pretty fun?
This will be my second time playing solo over east, but I'm still just as nervous and excited as I was earlier this year sitting at Perth Domestic eating a Jester's pie about to fly to Melbourne!
Once that tour wraps up, what’s the plans for the latter half of the year?
I'm going to be playing a few gigs and festivals of which some haven't been announced yet and also recording the next batch of tunes that I've written lately. I was meant to start uni this semester but instead I'll just be stealing my boyfriend's library books and pretending I go to Murdoch. Shh.
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